Stainless steel

Stainless steel, also known as rustproof steel, is an iron alloy consisting mainly of iron and at least 10.5% chromium. The chromium forms a passive layer of chromium oxide, which prevents further corrosion and gives the steel its characteristic rust resistance.

Stainless steel often also contains other elements such as nickel, molybdenum or nitrogen, which improve its properties such as malleability, strength and temperature resistance. There are different types of stainless steel, which have different properties depending on their composition and treatment.

Stainless steel is used in many industrial sectors, including architecture, the automotive industry, medical technology and food processing, as it is durable, easy to clean and hygienic. The exact properties and compositions of stainless steel are defined in standards such as DIN EN 10088.

silver stainless steel part

The various stainless steel types

Material DIN Description Service
stainless steel 304 1.4301 1.4301 is a relatively soft, non-ferromagnetic austenitic steel. It is highly resistant to corrosion under natural environmental influences. It is also characterized by good weldability, formability and polishability. Unsuitable for applications in chloride-containing environments and salt water. Sheet Metal Processing, CNC-Machining
stainless steel 316 Ti 1.4571 In contrast to 1.4301 steel, it is more resistant to chloride-containing environments and salt water, making it suitable for shipbuilding applications. It has good ductility and is also easy to weld and polish. Sheet Metal Processing, 3D, Laser cutting
stainless steel 316L 1.4404 The steel alloy 1.4404 impresses with good temperature and corrosion resistance as well as high elongation and tensile strength. Sheet Metal Processing, 3D, Laser
stainless steel 316 1.4401 Stainless steel 1.4401 is one of the most common grades used. Like the specifications of 316 stainless steel, 1.4401 stainless steel stands out due to its high corrosion resistance. It is basically very similar to 304 stainless steel, but differs in that it contains 2-3% molybdenum. CNC-Machining
stainless steel 303 1.4305 1.4305 is characterized by the fact that it is the easiest stainless steel to machine. This is made possible in particular by the proportion of sulphur in its composition. However, the higher proportion of sulphur compared to other grades also has the effect of reducing corrosion resistance and strength. CNC-Machining
stainless steel 17-4 PH 1.4542 This martensitic stainless steel 1.4542 is particularly corrosion-resistant and generally comparable to stainless steel 304. It has a high hardness and strength and is suitable for use in a wide range of industries, such as the food and chemical industries. CNC-Machining, 3D

Stainless steel: Pros and Cons

Pros

Due to its alloy, stainless steel is characterized by a high level of corrosion protection. This protection is achieved by a higher chromium content compared to normal steel. High-quality stainless steel is very durable and can provide reliable protection against rust if cleaned correctly. Stainless steel is also known for its hygienic advantages. Due to its extremely low reactions, e.g. in contact with food, and its high resistance to weathering, stainless steel is particularly suitable for products in the household sector or in industries with contact to liquids and extreme conditions, e.g. in the beverage industry or in shipbuilding.

Cons

Depending on the complexity of the alloy, stainless steel can be more expensive to produce than steel or other metals. However, the durability of stainless steel usually means that these additional costs are quickly amortized. In addition, when using stainless steel, care must be taken to ensure that the temperature limit of the respective stainless steel grade is observed and that only selected chemicals are used for cleaning and maintenance in order to prevent damage to the corrosion protection.

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